Jeanette Winterson Boating for Beginners

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According to David Lodge realistic literature is based on “ their obsession with form to neglect the content and the third person omniscient mode is more often used to assert or imply the existence of society or history, than of heaven and hell. Therefore, modernist fiction eschews the straight chronological ordering of realistic material and the use of reliable omniscient intrusive narrator”. In her novel, Jeanette Winterson uses a “method of multiple points of view” and her novel “tends towards a fluid and complex handling of time, involving much cross-reference backwards and forwards across the chronological span of the action”. We can reinforce this idea by quoting Linda Hutcheon, who says: “the postmodern artist was no longer the inarticulate, silent alienated creator figure of the Romantic but some theorists who showed they could write with sharp wit verbal play and anecdotal verve”. For Christopher Pressler, Jeanette Winterson is often described as one of the most controversial yet innovative fiction writers. Postmodernist techniques , modernist tradition, metafiction and magical realism are, however, mere instruments that Winterson deftly combines with a strong political commitment aimed at subverting socio-cultural power structures and ultimately, at appropriating traditionally male-defined concepts for her lesbian politics. She self-consciously questioned the mechanisms by which narratives texts are produced and partaken of a clear penchant of fantasy, magical realism and the fabulous. In Boating for Beginners, she rewrites the Flood and Noah’s Ark. In her fiction, God has not created men, it is Noah that makes God “ by accident out of a piece of gateau and a giant electrical toaster”. Gloria a homodiegetic adolescent female narrator struggles to find her own identity in a word of distorted fictions that pass for unquestionable realities. To analyse the demystification of the rewritten history of the Genesis it is interesting to answer this question: How does Boating for Beginners question the way History is written? To answer this question we will firstly analyse fact versus fiction. And finally we will focus on deconstruction in Jeanette Winterson’s novel.

To understand how Jeanette Winterson put on stage two groups of people, it is important to see in details all the characters. The first group gathers Noah, God, Japeth, Ham and Shem (Noah’s three sons, the same names as in the Bible) and their wives Ham’s wife, Sheila, and Japeth’s wife , Rita; Mrs Munde, Gloria’s mother, and Bunny Mix. Noah is an ordinary man (12); turned into a ridiculous character (18), he is a liar (139), a scientist who invent stupid things (82), he is a right wing man, suspicious of women and totally committed to money as a medium of communication (69), he turns out to be an unscrupulous businessman and his sons are submitted to his authority and obey him, (90), he is also fascist (69) he is authoritarian and looks like a star, he is a “spherical man with a bright bald head”, he was around four feet tall with the blackest, most piercing eyes possible in anything other a crow (50), he looks like a transvestite (18), “he was wearing a red-and-white spotted tie (61). God has been created by Noah he behaves as a child, he is vulgar (22) and (90). Throughout the novel, he has been called in different names: Noah called him “Yahweh”, “Lord”, “Unpronounceable” (biblical reference), the “drama queen” (110) but also by with disrespectful name like “Holy Wisp” (111-112) Lucifer called him the boss (133), Marlene called him “the cosmic dessert” (98); Ham called him the “God of Love, the omnipotent Stockbroker and the Omniscient Lawyer” (30). The sons of Noah have been deconstructed: Japeth is a jewellery king, Ham the owner of that prestigious pastrami store, More Meat, and, Shem who was once a playboy and entrepreneur, is now a reformed and zealous pop singer. The wives of Noah have been baptised Sheila, Desi and Rita (26): Rita was...
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